The Free-Reed Review
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CD Review: Iñigo Aizpiolea & Iñaki Alberdi
Iñigo Aizpiolea - free bass accordion
Iñaki Alberdi - free bass accordion
total time: 63.35
Review by Steve Mobia
Perhaps the only musical problem with solo accordion, particularly with free bass playing polyphonic lines, is that the same air supply accents both manuals at once. Unlike a piano, there is no way to emphasize a single note in a chord when other notes are played simultaneously. Having two accordions in duet solves this problem. Much subtle interweaving sound can take place. It's surprising not more pieces are written for duo accordions.
The Spanish accordionists Iñigo Aizpiolea and Iñaki Alberdi have recorded a significant album here of modern works written by Spanish composers for 2 accordions. Both performers have attended the Center for Accordion Studies at Irun and studied with various other notable accordion artists including Frederich Lips and Matti Rantanen. Aizpiolea and Alberdi are excellent representatives of the high standard of accordion artistry in Europe these days. Both have worked with a new generation of composers to write characteristic pieces for the accordion and this recording is a sample of what was achieved.
For just a taste of what these two can do, play the last track first. The Stravinsky classic Petrouschka in an abbreviated first act version serves as a great display of technique with familiar themes from the famous ballet. After you've marveled at this interpretation you may be ready for the bulk of the album, a variety of experimental explorations in sound. Aside from Petrouschka, if you're looking for toe tapping tunes, this is not the CD for you.
If you thought bellow shakes were a tacky vestige of the accordion's vaudeville days, take a listen to Jesus Torres Itzal where bellow shakes and rapid repeated notes become structural units of the piece. It's pretty wild and skittering, with changes of direction and sudden bursts occurring constantly.
After the atonal scrambling of Itzal, Sofia Martinez' Lluvia offers a restful melodic motive which soon after begins to rise in pitch with curious octave leaps and impulsiveness. The tones slow down and after a nice fluttery episode the piece ends with softly percolating staccato chords.
My personal favorite on this disc is Besarkada Batekin for 2 accordions and processed sound by Maite Aurrekoetxea. All the additional sounds are seemingly taken from recordings of accordions but multiplied, layered and transformed into flocks of key clicks, gusty bellows and whale spouts. The live elements are just as inventive. There is intense drama, even melodrama as rising chords streak upward into the heavens to be greeted by a demonic downward swooping attack of dive-bombing trills which recur throughout the piece. Any criticism here might be in the excess of material and the too obviously divided sections. Still, it's an adventure in listening.
Lux by Agustin Charles is a subtle commingling of pure high tone with dark lower tones and contrasting percussive rhythms. Despite the commotion in the lower regions, the piercing high 'light' returns in long tones almost like a rondo. There are some nice hymnlike chordal passages as well as intense telescoping bellow shake exchanges between the two players. As might be guessed, a lone high tone concludes.
Gorka Hermosa's Fragilissimo is a crazy one. Starting out with loud brash chords in the upper register, upward jolting clusters, breathing; an undulating pulse rhythm enters, picks up speed and leads to a completely unexpected bluesy tonal motive. Wild virtuoso runs decorate this section leading to a chugging conclusion.
Cuatro Diferencias by Gabriel Erkoreka is in three winding movements. The first and last have a continuous chorale-like organ texture, drifting through consonant and dissonant harmonies. The center movement has an inspired grace note calling motive which gives it a pastoral quality.
Luis de Pablo wrote a quasi tango with Retratos y Transcricpciones. The accents and motives suggest tango but the ambiguous melody and structure wander far from the traditional 'squared off' repeated phrases.
The CD is nicely packaged and recorded. There is a minimum of post production reverb added which should please some purists who dislike any tampering with the acoustic sound. Stereo separation between the two accordions is noticeable but not exaggerated. Though the 14-page booklet gives a nice bio for both players and a capsule history of the accordion as serious concert instrument, there is absolutely no information about the composers or their music—a sad omission.
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